Veteran Stories:
Bob Worrell

Air Force

  • Document confirming his promotion to Corporal in the North Shore Regiment.
    Attached is a newspaper clipping announcing Bob Worrell is joigning the RCAF.

    Bob Worrell
  • Bob Worrell posing for the picture at the switchboard.

    Bob Worrell
  • RCAF barracks in Whitehorse, Yukon, circa 1946.

    Bob Worrell
  • Chatham Grammar School Cadet Corps, taken at the army base in Woodstock, New Brunswick, 1941.
    Bob Worrell is first on the left, middle row.

    Bob Worrell
  • Control tower in Watson Lake, Yukon, 1946 or 1947.

    Bob Worrell
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"And some time during the night, the train stopped and I woke up and there was German prisoners occupying ever seat in the car, except the one I was sitting in."

Transcript

I’m Bob Worrel. I was born in Chatham, 23 January 1925. This was an air force town [laughs] and all my thoughts were, right from the time I was a little fellow, was to join the air force. It was a time in Chatham that there was nothing to do, like growing up during the Depression, a lot of the fellows would go to bed without supper and get up in the morning without breakfast. All the time I was in Prince Rupert, I worked a night shift in the repeater station. I knew telephone work, lines come in and then they have to be amplified again to be sent out for long distance lines, from Prince Rupert going down to the States and out to the rest of Canada.

So they had to have land lines, communication between all the bases. We were training all the air crews from all the allied countries and we had them provide stations for them to train on. And we had to have communications for them. There was 16 of us; the repeater station was on an army camp base on the base of a hill and we were there, we’d drive over to Seal Cove for our meals. But I worked in the fish plant from 8:00 in the morning until 11:30 at night and then I’d come in and go to work for the air force from 12:00 at night until 7:30 in the morning. There was only 16 of us on an army base. The army didn’t worry what we did. We were just there for quarters and we didn’t have any supervision.

We were like a small unit of our own. If I could work, I worked. There were some towns that they cleaned the men right out of, out west. The army felt you should go out in your spare time, you worked the harvest and Prince Rupert worked the fish plant all the time I was there and up in Whitehorse, if I had any spare time, I’d go and cut wood at night. They had wood stacked up about from here to the river. And two crews put six men each on the big saws carrying the wood and cutting it and throwing the blocks away. We’d do that all night and the fellow, the contractor, would take us down to the restaurant about 3:00 in the morning for a caribou steak. After you ate that, you didn’t want anything else for the rest of the day. [laughs]

Well, I had many train rides out west. Some of them I stood up from Newcastle [New Brunswick] to Montreal because there wasn’t a seat on the train. There was one time I was going out and got to Montreal, and they had a bunch of cars they were taking out west; they were all empty and obviously only, I got on it, I was the only one on it. I put two seats together and curled up and went to sleep. And some time during the night, the train stopped and I woke up and there was German prisoners occupying ever seat in the car, except the one I was sitting in. But they didn’t give any trouble. They were going to lumber camps or places to work.

Winnipeg was, I think, the most friendly city in Canada. And they took Eaton’s Toyland and made it into a service centre for the airmen who had been on weekends, and go in and have a meal. They charged us 35 cents for a lovely meal. Then they’d come and say, we have accommodations for you for the weekend. They were mostly, I think, first and second generation English people that we ran across in Winnipeg. And they were really keen on looking after servicemen. So they’d take us into their homes for the weekend, provide us with a bed and our food, all we had to do was give them our ration coupons.

When I came home, well, the pulp mill was going and the airport was still in operation here. It was a booming town. Things so long ago that I, we never thought of them for a long time and I forget them. Except to say that the friendliness of the people in Winnipeg really stands out.

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